Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  • Mt. Cammerer - © Michael Hicks
  • Great Smoky Mountains Panorama - © Wiki user Tetra09
  • Early Morning Fog - © Tim Lumley
  • Fall in the Great Smoky Mountains NP - © Richard

Key information: Great Smoky Mountains National Park


    • Much of this well-loved (and well-visited) national park straddling the Appalacian mountains is true wilderness, with huge biodiversity, both in plants and in its goodly selection of animal life.
    • The whole area is thickly forested, so don't expect much in the way of views until you get high - when you will see ridge after ridge of... er... smokey blue mountains!
    • There is a fine array of exciting walks here.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating78
  • Beauty31
  • Natural interest15
  • Human interest2
  • Charisma30
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating78

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • Maximum Altitude: 6,593ft
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable
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WALK SUMMARY

This national park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tenessee. Once away from the roads, it is true wilderness; and, with high rainfall, it has huge biodiversity, both in plants (1,500 species of flowers, under fine pines and firs) and its goodly selection of animal life. That said, acid rain from 3 nearby coal power stations is causing problems (and its haze affecting the views).

The whole area is thickly forested, so don't expect much in the way of views until you get high - when you will see ridge after ridge of... er... smoky blue mountains! But those are worth the wait, wooded ridges receding in every direction. Dawn and sunset can be gorgeous.

There is a fine array of exciting walks. Being near dense population areas, it is popular and favourite trails can get crowded at peak times.

Mount le Conte: "The" walk in the Smokys and the highest point in the USA east of the Mississippi (at [ ]m/6,500ft) sits at the heart of the national park. There are five routes up Mt le Conte. A delight here is the lodge close to the peak, which makes a walk in and back out over two days both a joy and very practical: with a meal and bunk awaiting you, you can travel light(ish).

This is true wilderness, with no road within a day's walk; and with high rainfall, it has huge biodiversity, both in plants (1,500 species of flowers, under fine pines and firs) and a goodly selection of animal life. That said, acid rain from 3 nearby coal power stations is causing problems (and its haze affecting the views).

A delight here is the lodge close to the peak, which makes a walk in and back out over two days both a joy and very practical: with a meal and bunk awaiting you, you can travel light(ish). An introductory thrill for your children?

The whole area is thickly forested, so don't expect much in the way of views until you get high. But those are worth the wait, wooded ridges receding in every direction. Dawn and sunset can be gorgeous.

There are five routes up Mt le Conte. The Alum Cave Trail is the shortest (5 miles), but steepest and most popular. Other routes include the Ranbow Falls Trail (6.5 miles), which stays in the Le Conte Creek valley for most of the way before joining a ridge.

Le Conte Lodge can be booked on 865 429 5704 or www.lecontelodge.com. The season runs from late March to late November. Reservations are by lottery, so make sure you apply in good time.

The GSMNP website has lots of good information -ps.gov/gvsm/index.htm.

This walk is in high(ish), remote(ish) mountains. Come prepared.

Have a look at the dreaded TripAdvisor . You should get good, current views on this walk/area.

Mount Cammerer Loop: 16 miles circuit (in parts on the Appalacian Trail) to the top of Mount Cammerer (4,928ft), which has superb views for miles around (the best of all?).

Gregory Bald: Particularly well known for the gorgeous azaleas in bloom around the peak in mid to late June. Superb views, too.

Rocky Top: This hill on the North Carolina side of the range will give you huge views on a clear day from the Spence Field - and superb flowers (mountain Laurel) in late Spring. On along, the Appalacian Trail gets you after a bit over a mile to Rocky Top. 6 miles each way.

Andrews Bald: This 3.5 mile round walk in the southern end, gets you to magnificent views from this high meadow.

Alseas Falls: A straightforward 5-mile round hike to this huge (if not especially high) waterfall.

The Jump-off:  A strenuous climb to a high ridge with wide views both ways, and on to the remarkable Jump-off above huge cliffs.

Charlies Bunion: a high ridge, with big views both sides.

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The GSMNP website has lots of good information - www.nps.gov/gvsm/index.htm, including more walks.

www.hikingintheSmokys.com has a whelter of great walks.

http://smokymountains.com/park/ has detailed information about the different areas.

http://smokymountains.com/cabin-rentals/ highlights places to stay when visiting.

Have a look at the dreaded TripAdvisor. You should get good, current views on this walk/area.

This page is at an early stage of development. Please help us by recommending your best walks, making suggestions and sending photos! Thank you!

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Fall in the Great Smoky Mountains NP - © Richard

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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